Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether favorable short-term results achieved by lung volume reduction surgery in selected patients with homogeneous emphysema would persist for longer periods. Their symptoms, lung function, and survival for several years were analyzed in comparison to patients with heterogeneous emphysema.
Methods: Two hundred fifty consecutive patients (105 women), mean (+/- standard deviation) age 64 +/- 8.4 years, with advanced emphysema underwent bilateral thoracoscopic lung volume reduction surgery. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second was 28% +/- 8% of predicted, 6-minute walking distance was 245 +/- 118 m, and Medical Research Council dyspnea score was 3.5 +/- 0.7. In 138 patients (55%) computed tomography revealed homogeneous emphysema (including 82 intermediate type) distribution and in 112 patients (45%) heterogeneous emphysema. Baseline characteristics were otherwise similar in the two groups that were prospectively observed for several years.
Results: Thirty-day mortality was 2.4%. Both groups revealed significant improvements 3 months after lung volume reduction surgery: in homogeneous emphysema, predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second was 38% +/- 14% (35% improvement), 6-minute walk distance was 324 +/- 87 m, and dyspnea score was 1.8 +/- 0.9 (p < 0.05 all outcomes). Corresponding results in heterogeneous emphysema were 44% +/- 15% (61% improvement), 382 +/- 95 m, and 1.3 +/- 0.9 points (p < 0.05 versus baseline; not significant versus homogeneous). Median time until predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second and 6-minute walk distance had returned to baseline was 36 months in both groups. One-year survival was similar in both groups. At 5 years, median survival without lung transplantation was 64% in the homogeneous and 73% in the heterogeneous group (Cox proportional hazard, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.66 to 0.98; p = 0.03).
Conclusions: In selected patients with homogeneous pulmonary emphysema, lung volume reduction surgery can be successfully performed with low perioperative mortality. Significant improvements in dyspnea, lung function, and exercise capacity are maintained for several years.